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In May 2023, social media posts across platforms claimed that a butt plug, a type of sexual device, worn by a patient during an MRI became an "anal rail gun" and caused major internal injuries to the patient.
A screenshot of a text message claimed a person attended a MRI scan wearing a butt plug advertised to be 100% silicone, but that the plug had a metallic core that caused major internal injuries to the patient. The text message claimed the person had heard about the incident from a lawyer representing the patient. In social posts, a picture claiming to show an MRI scan with the butt plug inside of the patient's body was often included next to the screenshot of the text.
The earliest social media post we found that contained both the picture and screenshot of the text was a tweet from May 9, 2023. "Never wear a butt plug to your MRI appointment," the user posted. "My god…"
Never wear a butt plug to your MRI appointment. My god... pic.twitter.com/qdA6sV3mKE
— Dread Pirate Bradius ????☠️????☠️ (@BradiusZero) May 9, 2023
Although we couldn't determine with certainty whether this claim was accurate/authentic, we observed it had at traits often indicative of misinformation:
- The claim was attributed to a personal acquaintance with supposedly secret information (e.g. a "friend of a friend" or "my cousin's husband") rather than an official source.
- The account itself later referred to the tweet as a "shitpost," which is a post that is deliberately absurd, provocative, or offensive, according to Merriam-Webster.
The presence of these traits do not necessarily mean that the claim or content is bogus, but it does mean you should certainly be wary of sharing it online.
Here is what we know:
Using the Internet Archive, we found the viral image in a since-deleted Reddit post from April 8, 2023. The post was titled "MRI to CT." The caption included in the post claimed the patient said they didn't have metal on them, but that the material inside the butt plug had metal balls.
The screenshot of the text wasn't included in the post. We could find no social media posts about the claims that came from anyone with the name mentioned in the text as the lawyer representing the person.
The Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Medwatch database, which is a medical product safety reporting program for health professionals, contained an April 2023 report detailing an incident in which a patient did not disclose that she was wearing a butt plug during an MRI and subsequently felt like she was going to pass out. The report said the incident happened on April 7, 2023, and did not mention the type of material the butt plug was made out of.
According to Yale Medicine, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines work by using magnetic fields and radio waves to create detailed images of internal anatomy in detail. The website said MRIs are frequently used to help diagnose a range of medical conditions, from heart disease to disorders of the bones and joints.
According to Radiology Info, a website dedicated to radiology jointly sponsored by the American College of Radiology and Radiological Society of North America, the magnetic force of the MRI machine will pull on any object in a patient's body that is attracted to magnets or can be magnets themselves. (The measurement for measuring magnetic fields, teslas (T), are not the same as what is used to measure speed, meters per second (m/s), unlike what the text message claimed.)
The magnetic pull of MRI machines is very strong. For example, General Electric wrote in 2014 that its 7T magnet could generate a magnetic field 140,000 times stronger than the Earth's magnetic field. Clinics like the Mayo Clinic used 7T MRI machines, at the time of this writing.
According to Radiology Lab, any metallic fragment in a person's body could potentially change position in the body and cause an injury because of the strength of the magnetic pull. The webpage said comprehensive screenings should be done before an MRI to identify the presence of metallic objects to take precautions as needed. In addition, patients need to tell the technician in charge of the procedure if they have metal devices in their body, according to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California.
Computed tomography (CT) scans send radiation throughout the body to obtain highly detailed internal images. While metal may affect image results, it is regarded as safe for patients with metal implants to get CT scans, according to the Medical Associates of Northwest Arkansas.
Butt plugs with metal cores, as well as butt plugs with metal balls, do exist. We found at least one brand described to have a steel core on the company's Twitter account, as well as on several websites where it was sold. The exact brand of the butt plug in the meme could not be identified solely based on the contents of the photograph.
If we receive more information, we will update this post.